Wednesday, December 31, 2008

My Unplugged Holiday

Hello out there!

If you are checking out this blog because you received the URL in our Christmas card, let me apologize for not having updated more recently. I had intended to post a Christmas letter (which we did not include in our cards this year), but the thought of a (mostly) unplugged holiday was so appealing - and so very needed! I hope to be back to a more regular blogging schedule early in January - hopefully with a wrap-up of 2008 and a peek at our holiday celebrations (which have all been lovely). For now, we are still making the most of family time before Big J returns to work and worrying way too much about the impending school selection process for Mister J (oh, yeah, you'll get to read plenty about that, too, I'm sure!).

I sincerely hope that you had a wonderful Christmas, Hannukah, or Kwanzaa, and that you are looking forward to a happy and healthy 2009!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Overheard ... #10

... as Mister J was enjoying the tricycle at Grandma and Grandpa R's house....

Big J (as Mister J was coasting/speeding/flying down the driveway with his feet off the pedals): "Don't run into your sister!"

Mister J (as he leaned into the u-turn at the bottom of the driveway): "I won't! She gets out of the way!"

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Sweet Heart (also known as Overheard ... #9)

I had to make a stop at the hardware store/satellite post office yesterday (yes, that's one stop - in the same building - odd, but convenient). Miss M was patient as I picked up a couple of shipping boxes, then helped me choose just the right ball of twine to make bird feeders for the trees around our house. As we paid for our purchase, she asked for my change. Here's how it all worked out as we completed the purchase and walked out of the store:

Miss M: "Mommy, I need some money."

Mommy: "You do?"

Miss M: "YES! I need some money!"

Mommy: "What will you do with some money?"

Miss M: "I put it in the red bucket!"

Can you guess what she was talking about?

She was talking about the Salvation Army bell ringers and their 'red buckets' that we see so frequently during the Christmas season. Mister J and Miss M get to put change in the buckets whenever we see one. Even if it's only a few coins, I give them whatever change I have so they can put money in every bucket we see. I want them to learn to be generous; I want giving to be a habit. And my sweet little Miss M - my 2 1/2 year old 'baby' girl - remembered that we should give away that spare change even at a store where there was no bucket. To say I am proud does not fully describe my feelings at that moment. She got my change, and we will save it until we see another red bucket.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Overheard ... #8

... as we were getting out of the mommy-van to meet Big J for lunch today.

Mister J: "Hey, Mom, I see some porcupines!"

Me: "Really? Porcupines? Where?"

You must realize that we were not having a picnic in the woods - we were having Mexican food, in a restaurant, in a fairly busy area of town. Not much room for trees there, much less wildlife....

Mister J: (pointing across parking lot) "Over there...."

I turned to look, and truly could not stifle my laugh. He was pointing to a cactus bed. Tee hee! I felt totally awful about laughing - and was a little worried I'd hurt his feelings - so I quickly explained to Mister J how he'd kind of made a joke. We talked about how cacti could stick you just like a porcupine if you touched them, I gave him a new big word (well, phrase...) - defense mechanism - and explained that the spines were for protection. He seemed perfectly content - no harm done - and he got a few new big words to throw around.

Did I mention that this was after I explained lightbulbs and filaments (and gave a very basic CFL rundown) on the way to lunch? I think I need to go back to school just to keep up!

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Marathon Birthday Week

Well, it's a week later I'm finally getting around to posting about Mister J's birthday celebrations. That should tell you just a little bit about how much fun we had! Admittedly, it was a lot of work, but I sure hope everyone enjoyed the end result as much as we did.

We took cupcakes to preschool for Mister J's actual birthday, and celebrated over the weekend. Grandma RL arrived on Thursday evening, and Aunt L and Grandma & Grandpa R arrived on Friday. Grandpa H and MeMaw had to steer clear since he was just finishing up his chemotherapy (yay, Daddy!) and still had some radiation treatments to go.

After a day of shopping/party preparation on Friday, the big weekend started with a cook-your-own pizza party in the evening to celebrate a buddy of Mister J who shares the same birthday.

Mister J was pretty proud of his final product! While I expected to pick up a child covered head-to-toe in flour, Mister J was spotless once he took off his apron. I think there's a place for him in my kitchen....

Saturday was Mister J's day, and the rain held off for some birthday fun! We played musical chairs, had a visit from some firemen (you may remember that we got the idea from a friend's party), and played a party-themed version of Bingo that I decided to call "Flame." I absolutely loved leading the game of musical chairs. I had some great cheerleaders who helped me with "stop" and "go" after they were out of the game.

You might remember a similar photo - only in shorts - from our friend's party.

Thanks Grandma RL for another awesome birthday cake :) She spent so much time on making it perfect so that we could just cut it up and eat it (it was yummy)!

On Saturday evening, Big J and I were at church for our Sunday school class' Christmas Dinner. Grandma and Grandpa R had some one-on-one time with the kids while we were out (thanks!).
(n.b. - Never make plans to host/coordinate two parties in one day. However, if you must, having them in the same place is a very good idea).

On Sunday morning, Mister J sang in the "Cherub Choir" at church. It was so sweet, and I'm glad that all of our visiting family could stay to hear them sing. After brunch at one of our favorite restaurants, it was time to say our good byes.

The last few days have been spent playing with the new toys and games - what fun! - and of course learning a few lessons about sharing. Some of those new 5-year-old toys have tiny parts, so we're also learning more about the importance of not losing pieces and keeping them out of reach of little hands. No real tragedies yet, but a few close calls!

As for me, I'm now the mother of a 5-year-old. Whoa - when did that happen?

Monday, December 8, 2008

Overheard ... #7

... as we were making one of many stops while I shopped for last weekend's parties.

Me: "Miss M, when we go into the store, you will be riding in the cart."

Miss M: "I walk, Mommy. I not a baby, I just a little girl."

OK, Miss M - thanks for setting me straight :)

Thursday, December 4, 2008

What are you waiting for?

I don't often post about my faith. In fact, since I just created the label, I have probably not posted anything about my faith. Maybe about church, but not faith. I have been pondering this post, or rather the idea of this post, for a week now. I think I'm ready to share it with you.

On our way to see the family for Thanksgiving, the kids were watching "The Incredibles." I was not really listening to the movie, but at one point the dialogue caught my attention. There's a scene in which Mr. Incredible comes home from work, parks in his driveway, and gets out of his car. He notices the neighborhood kid on his bike at the end of the driveway, waiting and watching.

"What are you waiting for?" asks Mr. Incredible.

"I don't know, something amazing!" says the neighborhood kid.

For the last week, that little bit has replayed itself over and over in my mind. I find myself 'hearing' it on the way to preschool, while I'm out running errands, or while I'm doing work around the house. And each time I think of it, I wonder what I'm waiting for. I wonder what any of us is waiting for. Most of all, I wonder why we are just waiting for something amazing to happen.

For me, this is a reminder that I need to pray every day. However big or small my cares are, I need to take them to God. I need to take them to Him whenever I'm in need, as many times a day as I'm in need. I need to hand it all over, not just wait to see if He will come and take away my cares, fix my problems, and give me something amazing in return. How can I be a good role model for my children (with whom I say bedtime prayers every night) if I'm not saying prayers myself? How can I answer their questions about my relationship with God if I don't truly have one?

I don't know how long I'll keep hearing the neighborhood kid in my head as my reminder, but I hope I'm never found to be just sitting there, waiting on something amazing.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Overheard ... #6

... while on the phone with Big J:
(You need a little backstory on this one - today is Mister J's birthday. You'll see more about that soon enough!)

Me: Oh, by the way, E called and I gave him your cell number. Did he reach you?

Big J: Just got off the phone. He invited me to [exciting sporting event in nearby metropolis] this evening.

Me: Oh, bummer that it's tonight and you can't go!

Big J: What do you mean?

Me: (As blood pressure rises and face reddens, but with voice as calm as possible...) It's your son's birthday

Big J: Ok.... And?

Me: (Blood pressure higher, face redder, voice slightly less calm...) And. It's. Your. Son's. Birthday.

Big J: (Laughter. Lots of it. I'm surprised he didn't fall off of his chair. And then, amid continuing laughter....) Sorry, I couldn't keep a straight face for that one! How's your blood pressure?

He knows me too well! With blood pressure slowly settling back down to normal, I laughed along with him as we finished up our conversation. Admittedly, he had me going there for a moment, but I have to confess that I'm thankful for a lighthearted moment like this in the midst of such a busy week!

Monday, December 1, 2008

Travel, Turkey, Family, and Fun!

We drove to Grandma and Grandpa R's house for the Thanksgiving holiday - Wednesday through Sunday. Some of Big J's extended family was there, too - Aunt B and Uncle J. It was a great visit, the weather was quite pleasant for the first half of our visit, and the kids had so much fun! I won't make (m)any comments about the holiday traffic, I'll just say that we are spoiled that the family usually comes to our house for the holidays, rubbernecking is not ok, and does everyone really have to pick the same time as us to drive home? We were also semi-unplugged during our visit - niiice! Yes, I missed my email, Facebook, and bloggy friends, but it wasn't all bad! We had lots of fun, as you will see. I tried really hard to pare down the photos and video for this post, and you should know that it was NOT easy. I ended up with lots of sweet, funny, cute shots of my kiddos - and the rest of the family, too! See....

Thanksgiving Day

That's Miss M serving herself before the meal was actually served. She was especially fond of the cranberry 'jelly'! Mister J enjoyed lots of good food, including pumpkin pie with whipped cream.

On Thanksgiving afternoon, we went into 'the city' for a mouse hunt! The kids (with some help from Mom, Dad and Grandpa R) found 10 little bronze mice! I just couldn't resist showing you how many great pics I got of Mister J and Miss M together!

That last one is Miss M, worn out after out the dozen-plus blocks of mouse hunting and walking about town, but before the walk back to where we started! There were lots more good pics, including one of the squirrel we quietly watched so it wouldn't scurry away. I am now convinced, these kids can listen to Mom, but still unsure why it isn't a daily habit....

The weather was still nice on Friday, so we played outside! Swinging, walking Aunt B's dog, riding the tricycle, playing hide-and-seek - we did it all. And, for the record, I will admit that Mister J outsmarted both his Mommy and Daddy. Special thanks to Uncle J for keeping Mister J's hiding place a secret - he will remember that for a long time!

Miss M seemed to finally get comfortable climbing the steps, and is maybe a little too confident now - from Mommy's perspective, at least!

That evening, we went to see a local Christmas light display. We were able to walk through a portion of it, which the kids enjoyed more than the driving portion, I think. We also had some hot chocolate and roasted marshmallows. Miss M couldn't wait for her spot at the fire, so started eating hers plain!

The weather wasn't quite as nice on Saturday - it was downright COLD! But, in between sprinkles, the kids played outside with a whole team of adults to keep them company.

We had so much fun! Thanks to Grandma and Grandpa R for feeding us, giving us a place to sleep, and keeping us entertained. Uncle J and Aunt B, we are glad you each made the trip - we enjoyed seeing you, and the kids enjoyed having you around to play with them. By the way, as parents, we enjoyed having 8 extra hands around - it's a treat we rarely get, so Thank You!!!!

Poll Results - #3

My favorite kind of day is...

warm and sunny - 33% (2 of 6 votes)
cool and breezy - 16.5% (1 of 6 votes)
cold and dry - 0%
hot and humid - 33% (2 of 6 votes)
cloudy and rainy - 16.5% (1 of 6 votes)

Just FYI - I voted for cool and breezy. I love fall!